The national unity delusion

10th August 2019

Corbyn election

Jeremy Corbyn: No10 on the horizon?

The anti-Jeremy Corbyn campaign of the political and media establishment in the UK took a new turn this week, with the calls for a government of national unity to stop a no deal Brexit.  The Tories have installed the most volatile and unstable leader in years as Prime Minister, in the form of Boris Johnson.  The Liberal Democrats have elected a diehard anti- Labour, anti-Corbyn leader in the form of Jo Swinson.  Labour have been calling for a general election for months, as the only way out of the Brexit impasse, in spite of the insistence of the BBC and other media that they have been sitting on the fence.

The manoeuvrings of the political establishment to avoid a general election are a measure of how afraid they are of the prospect of a progressive Labour government being elected.  It should have happened when Theresa May suffered an unprecedented parliamentary defeat when her EU Withdrawal Bill first went before the House of Commons.  It should have happened immediately following the Tory leadership election, in order to test the positions of the major parties with the electorate.

With the government in a state of turmoil, the Tory leadership barely keeping the parliamentary party together, it would be logical for the Labour opposition to unite behind the leadership in order to demand a real people’s vote in the form of an election.

Why is this not happening?

Unfortunately, the diehard right wing within Labour, with Deputy Leader Tom Watson at the forefront, cannot grasp that the defeat of the Tory government is a higher priority than stopping Brexit.

A vote of no confidence in the government must be tabled once Parliament reconvenes in September.  If that vote is carried it must be the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, who is invited to form a government.  If he cannot do so within 14 days a general election must be the outcome.  If Johnson refused to quit and Labour was unable to form a caretaker government, there could then be a second no confidence motion 14 days after the first where Labour would try to force a general election.

The call for a so called government of national unity is nothing more than an attempt to circumvent this process and suggest that a leader with cross party support should be selected, in order to ensure a no deal Brexit is stopped by seeking an extension to the Article 50 process, before an election can be held.

Labour renegades Chuka Umunna and Chris Leslie have leapt on the bandwagon, seeing yet another chance to stop Corbyn by any means, in the process doing nothing more than expose their opportunist credentials still further.  Candidates mooted for the ludicrous national unity government notion have been as diverse as the Green Party’s sole MP, Caroline Lucas, Tory octogenarian Ken Clarke and Tory renegade Change UK MP, Heidi Allen.  Labour backbenchers Hilary Benn and Yvette Cooper have also been in the frame.  The idea that any of these could mobilise a parliamentary majority to stop a no-deal Brexit is frankly bizarre.

The parliamentary arithmetic suggests that the national unity notion is a dead duck from the start, so why raise it?  The reality is that there are sections of the Labour Party which have never come to terms with Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership victories and remain more committed to undermining him than they do to punishing the Tories and Liberal Democrats for a decade of austerity.

These people will continue to seek any avenue to bring the leadership of Corbyn into question and add to the prevailing media narrative that he should not be Prime Minister.  They know that a Corbyn government would not be ‘business as usual’.  They know that his leadership so far has not been ‘business as usual’.  They know that a Labour government with a socialist programme, committed to tackling the profound economic, social, environmental and democratic crises engulfing the country, would be an uncomfortable place for them.  However, that is the place we need to be.

All The Old Duds

26th July 2019

Johnson(2)

Johnson – blah, blah, blah

The first days of the Boris Johnson premiership have confirmed a number of things.  Johnson’s blustering performance outside 10, Downing St, when accepting the role of Prime Minister, was full of hot air.    His speech and response to questions in the House of Commons this week was an object lesson in talking loud and saying virtually nothing.  In short, Johnson is little more than an incorrigible windbag.

That such windbagging has landed Johnson the top job in UK government says more about the parlous state of the Conservative Party than it does about Johnson’s skills as an orator, negotiator or political operator.  In truth Johnson’s oratorial appeal lies almost entirely in his ability to deliver a witty one liner or a quick witted riposte when cornered.  These are useful skills that will undoubtedly garner a few headlines from journalists, too lazy to see beyond Prime Minister’s Questions, but they are not sufficient to justify being in charge of the government.

As a failed Foreign Secretary Johnson does not bring to the job of Prime Minister any notable experience in a senior ministerial position.  On the contrary, he has demonstrated that he cannot be trusted and that his grasp of foreign policy goes little beyond kowtowing to US President, Donald Trump.

In relation to the UK/Iranian citizen, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, currently jailed in Iran, even Johnson acknowledges some culpability in her ongoing incarceration.  He either blurted out the truth in suggesting she was training journalists in Iran, effectively implying she was a British agent, or he has inadvertently implicated an innocent woman in activities she has had no part in.  In either scenario, Johnson’s intervention can hardly be seen as a diplomatic coup de grace.

Johnson’s first Cabinet appointments clearly reflect a desire to brook no disagreement, about Brexit in particular, with a hard core of pro-Brexit loyalists being brought in to help prop up Johnson’s Brexit by 31st October, “do or die” pledge.

Such luminaries include Priti Patel as Home Secretary, a hang ‘em, flog ‘em or deport ‘em appointment if ever there was one.  Patel’s credentials include being sacked by Theresa May for having secret discussions with Israeli officials, in order to influence UK policy, including advocating that the UK send military aid to Israel.  Patel has also consistently supported anti-immigration bills, and opposed same sex marriage.

The Chancellor’s role goes to Sajid Javid, a Tory in the mould of Norman ‘get on your bike’ Tebbit, who will no doubt exhort the poor to work harder and stop whinging while their benefits are being cut.  Dominic Raab comes in as Foreign Secretary, a former pretender to the premiership in the leadership race, a Johnson loyalist, while he is PM, and fully paid up member of the pro-US, pro-nuclear club.

Michael Gove resurfaces as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, a title of meaningless bombast, which will effectively see him in charge of no-deal Brexit preparations.  Long time Johnson cheerleader, Liz Truss, turns up as International Trade Secretary while recent convert and former Remainer, Matt Hancock, hangs on at Health and Social Care.  Jacob Rees-Mogg bags a Cabinet post as Leader of the House.

The list goes on.  The chairs may have changed around but the tune remains the same.  Johnson characterised it as “to deliver Brexit by 31st October, unite the party, defeat Jeremy Corbyn – and energise our country.” Deliver, unify, defeat, energise – DUDE, as Johnson would have it.  Unfortunately for Johnson there is not a dude in sight, young or otherwise, and the Tory Cabinet could only ever be a collection of duds.  They have managed to deliver ten years of austerity, initially aided by the opportunist Liberal Democrats and lately by the Democratic Unionist Party thugs.  For the good of the people of the UK they should not be afforded ten minutes more.

The sooner a General Election is called, the better chance Labour has of turning back the tide in favour of the many, not the few.

That racist tweet in full

20th July 2019

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on July 15, 2019 in Washington, DCAmerican Heroes: Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

On 14th July 2019, US President, Donald Trump, communicated the following message in a sequence of three tweets regarding the attitudes and views of elected Democratic Congresswomen Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib.

“So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”

Omar arrived in the US as an eight year old refugee from war torn Somalia, being naturalised as a US citizen as a child.  Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley and Tlaib were born in the US.

If there was any lingering doubt that the current occupant of the White House is a white supremacist and racist this statement alone should dispel such illusions.  Omar has responded by saying,

“We have condemned this president’s racist remarks.  I believe he is a fascist.”

Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders, has accused the president of “stoking the most despicable and disturbing currents in our society” while 2020 Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren stated,

“He is trying to divide and distract us from his own crimes and from his deeply unpopular agenda of letting the wealthy and well-connected rip off the country.  We must do more.”

Trump’s campaign for the 2020 presidential election is underway.  At a rally in North Carolina this week mention of Omar prompted Trump supporters to break into an eruption of “send her back” chants.  Trump claims to have tried to stop this but the evidence suggests otherwise.

The racist tweet was aimed at all four Congresswomen but the demonisation of Omar is exacerbated by her Muslim faith, adding more than a hint of Islamophobia to Trump’s remarks, a toxic mix which will not be lost on his electoral base.

The basis for the 2020 election was spelled out even further in a sequence of tweets on 15th July when Trump proclaimed,

“We will never be a Socialist or Communist Country. IF YOU ARE NOT HAPPY HERE, YOU CAN LEAVE! It is your choice, and your choice alone. This is about love for America. Certain people HATE our Country. They are anti-Israel, pro Al-Qaeda, and comment on the 9/11 attack, “some people did something.” Radical Left Democrats want Open Borders, which means drugs, crime, human trafficking, and much more. Detention facilities are not Concentration Camps! America has never been stronger than it is now – rebuilt Military, highest Stock Market EVER, lowest unemployment and more people working than ever before. Keep America Great!”

Trump appears to have added a new ally to his roster in the form of US Congressman, Lindsey Graham, from South Carolina, who has enthusiastically endorsed Trump’s position and stepped up the abuse against the four congresswomen.

The Communist Party USA (CPUSA) has condemned the recent spate of attacks stating,

“Trump sank to new lows accusing four women members of Congress of “hating America” demanding they “go back to where they came from.”  Lindsey Graham added injury to insult by labelling them “a bunch of communists” and by implication suggesting they were advocating “foreign ideas.”

But socialism and communism are as American as apple pie.  Let’s recall that before the arrival of the Mayflower, the original Native American inhabitants held land in what is now the U.S. in common: it was capitalism that was brought in from outside.  And throughout U.S. history socialists and communists made many signal contributions to public life from serving as Generals in the Union Army fighting against slavery, to drafting Social Security legislation, to adding enormously to American arts, letters, and science.”

Not that Trump or his electoral base care about any of that.  The politics of Trump thrives on the need for a public enemy, or enemies, against which he can defend the US, its interests and its so called ‘greatness’.  The four Congresswomen are the domestic manifestation of this approach.  US sabre rattling in the Persian Gulf, stepping up its threat of military action against Iran, is the international dimension.

Reducing politics to the good guys and bad guys, white hats and black hats, cowboys and Indians is, ironically, the Trump method.  It worked in 2016 because the Democrats fielded an establishment candidate incapable of hitting back with enough power to dent the Trump base.

It will be a tall order to dislodge Trump in 2020 but the Democrats urgently need to find a candidate to make inroads, otherwise another four years will see an even more dangerous world for progressives both inside and outside of the United States.

Replacing the conspiracy theorists

7th July 2019

US-Mexico

Protests against detention camps on the US-Mexico border continue

The normalisation of reactionary ideas is an increasing trend, which is in danger of pushing what is accepted as mainstream much further to the right in political debate.  The scale of right wing governments across Europe, the election of Donald Trump as US President, the imminent installation of Boris Johnson as UK Prime Minister, all help perpetuate the ‘normalisation’ of right wing ideas.

It can begin in what appear to be small ways.  The Thatcher government in the UK introduced the concept of the ‘right to buy’, a means of dismantling social housing delivered through local government.  The right to buy emphasised the right of the individual over the collective need to provide working class housing.

The privatisation of state run industries and key utilities in the same period was based on the ideological shift away from services being run for public good and towards an emphasis upon private profit.  Comprehensive state education was dismantled in favour of local management of schools and more recently the academy system, set up to profit the private sector.

In all cases the State was demonised as having failed to deliver and, it was argued, only the private sector could come to the rescue of the economy.  The consequences speak for themselves every day.

The basis of the economics of the European Union, that inflation control is the main objective of economy policy, whatever the consequences for the economy and however little government control that allows over policy direction, is widely accepted, even on sections of the Left.  The collective squeezing of the weaker economies of Spain, Portugal, Greece and Ireland in order to maintain the aggrandisement of Germany, France and UK has been a key feature of the EU for over forty years.  The economic annexation of Eastern European states by the EU has only continued this trend.

The rise of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally in France, the Brexit Party in the UK and Alternativ fur Deutschland (AfD) in Germany, all fiercely nationalist and against the over bloated bureaucracy of the EU, suggests that the Maastricht Treaty based consensus in the EU is coming to an end.  The irony is that the so called populist parties across Europe are basing their appeal upon the failure of the EU to deliver for the poor across the continent.

As ever, the easy approach for right wing demagogues of this ilk is to focus in upon what appear to be the simple answers.  The free movement of people in the EU results in too many immigrants, taking too many jobs, or as asylum seekers living on welfare.   In the same way the Trump slogan to Make America Great Again resonated with the dispossessed in the United States, the right wing in Europe are playing upon the same fears and insecurities.

Even Russian President, Vladimir Putin, suggested recently that liberalism in the West is dead.

The views of the right are being given further credence by the emergence of theoretical approaches which seek to back up and justify the actions of these groups.  Prominent at the moment is the so-called “great replacement” theory which calls for the forced deportation of ethnic minority communities, focusing upon paranoia that white people are being wiped out through migration and violence.

The “great replacement” conspiracy theory was initiated by right wing French writer, Renaud Camus, who claims that a global elite is conspiring against white European populations and culture.  Not far from Hitler’s view in the 1930’s that the conspiracy was headed by Jews and Communists.

There are a world of madcap theories out there but when one is being referenced by political leaders in Italy, Germany and the tweets of the President of the United States, there is cause for concern.

In practical terms this results in justifying migration detention camps in North Africa, paid for by the EU, in order to prevent potential migrants reaching Europe.  Kenan Malik, writing in The Observer (7/7/19) suggests,

“The EU-funded prisons are places of true horror in which sexual abuse and torture are commonplace.  European government are aware of the conditions.  But these prisons are far enough away to allow them to wash their hands of any responsibility.”

Similar detention camps on the US-Mexico border were recently condemned by US Democratic congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as concentration camps.  Even after two terms as President, Barack Obama could not close down the US internment camp in occupied Cuba at Guantanamo Bay.

Whether it is defending values under threat, protecting our way of life or stopping overcrowding, the justifications for these actions are always spurious.  The ordinary people of the world, of whatever colour, race or creed have more to unite them than divide them.  Those seeking to perpetuate division, under whatever theory or banner, are seeking only to defend their own vested interest in the status quo.

Speaking out and taking action are essential to combat the rise of the right and bring about control, which can truly see the emergence of governments of the people, by the people, for the people.

 

Trump walks the tightrope

23rd June 2019

Missile batteries

Iranian missile batteries disabled by cyber attack

US President, Donald Trump, continues to walk a political tightrope in the Middle East.  Trump has been trying to paint himself as the great statesman in recent days, for pulling back from a decision which may have resulted in the deaths of 150 innocent Iranians.  Trump claims that he called off air strikes upon Iran at the last minute last week, after being told of the potential death toll.  The threatened strikes were in response to the Iranians shooting down an unmanned US spy drone, which had ‘strayed’ into Iranian air space.

Quite where Trump imagines he gets the authority to toy with the lives of 150 Iranians, or anyone else, is anyone’s guess.  The fact that he can portray himself as magnanimous for not indulging in this arbitrary execution is monstrous.  The position is further compounded by the fact that Trump is responding to a crisis which is largely of his own making.

In pulling the US out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran nuclear deal signed between Tehran and Barack Obama, Trump triggered increased tensions with Iran.  The renewed sanctions as a result have upped the pressure upon the Iranian economy, given the hardliners in the Islamic Republic greater prominence and squeezed the living standards of ordinary Iranians to breaking point.

Trump may not have killed any Iranians in a direct military strike, on this occasion, but the US sanctions regime, combined with the profiteering, corruption and ineptitude of the Iranian government itself, is ensuring that the people of Iran are suffocating slowly.

Recent reports indicate that US retaliation has taken the form of cyber attacks upon Iranian weapons systems.  US officials claim that the cyberattacks, part of a contingency plan developed over weeks amid escalating tensions, have disabled the Iranian computer systems that control its rocket and missile launchers.

The United States is determined to stem the tide of Iranian influence in the region, particularly its support for Hezbollah in Lebanon, Houthi rebels in Yemen, its role against intervention in Syria and its influence upon the government of Iraq. The US is supported by its regional proxies in Israel and Saudi Arabia, who are equally concerned that the power and influence of Iran does not upset their own designs to be regional superpowers.

The US, Saudis and Israel have a collective interest in keeping the flow of oil to the West, while at the same time ensuring the flow of weapons from the US and UK into the Middle East.

White House hawks in the form of National Security Adviser, John Bolton, and Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, have argued for military strikes against Iran.  Trump’s recent stand down is by no means a guarantee that the threat of conflict is over or that one could not erupt due to mistake or misunderstanding.

The recent attacks upon oil tankers in the Persian Gulf appear to be the first steps in a pattern of provocation in which Iran is blamed for actions which the US has to then address, in order to protect its ‘vital interests’.

Whatever the US may say publicly the only endgame for the Trump administration is regime change in Iran.  The economy in Iran is on its knees, protests continue to sweep the country, the credibility of the regime is lower than ever.  Oil exports are virtually at zero, further compounding the weakness of the economy and the misery of the Iranian people.  In short, Iran poses no economic or military threat to the United States.

The Iranian people have suffered 40 years of mendacity, poverty and oppression under the Islamic Republic.  They are undoubtedly ready for change, just not change imposed by the US or its proxies, but change which they lead and the direction of which they determine.  That is something the Trump White House will not be comfortable with as regime change for the US means change that is pro US.

Given the history of US intervention in the region a US friendly government in Iran is not something which can be guaranteed, or which the Iranian people should be expected to deliver.

The keys to the door

16th June 2019

JohnsonIt’s no joke – a Johnson premiership is possible

Anti-working class, misogynist, racist, homophobes seem to be the order of the day for what passes for leaders of the so-called free world at present.  Donald Trump is the exemplar of course, with a sprinkling of European demagogues close behind.  However, the Tory Party election for a new leader in the UK sees failed Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, coming up on the rails.

Laughingly described, largely by themselves, as the world’s most sophisticated electorate the Tories are engaged in a process of sucking themselves and the UK into a vortex, the outcome of which is likely to see Boris Johnson with the keys to 10, Downing Street.

The media insist that this process is driven by fear of Nigel Farage, as many Tories are scared of losing their seats to the Brexit Party at a general election if they do not elect an openly pro Brexit leader.  Johnson is also seen by many Tories as the only candidate with sufficient ‘personality’ to oppose the people’s stockbroker.

This is course plays into the media’s hands.  The UK press have for many years insisted on reducing the political process to a personality contest, it makes for easy confrontational headlines.  The BBC has for some time also been complicit in this delusion.  Having been a cheerleader for Farage for some time the state broadcaster would like nothing better than a Farage vs Johnson heavyweight Brexit bout.  Pay per view watch out!

Back in the real world there is only one thing that all eleven Tory candidates, now down to six at the time of writing, have in common.  That is their antipathy towards, and fear of losing a general election to, Jeremy Corbyn.  The Labour leader has studiously avoided the politics of personality throughout his political career and is showing no signs of wavering from the politics of principle which have characterised his political judgements.

The fear of the Tory candidates is not about Corbyn’s public image, it is about the substance of his policy positions and the manifesto commitments likely to form the basis of a Labour General Election platform.

Tackling austerity by reinvesting in public services, nationalising the rail network, building much needed Council housing, increasing rates of corporation tax, creating jobs for young people, tackling the military budget, squeezing the corporate tax dodgers who leech on the economy; these are the sorts of policies that make every Tory candidate afraid.  These are the sorts of policies which won Labour the Peterborough by-election, seeing off the challenge of the Brexit Party and reducing the Tories to a feeble third place, following their derisory fifth place finish in the European elections.

Whoever wins the Tory leadership race will become Prime Minister.  A new Prime Minister does not however change the existing arithmetic in Parliament without having a general election, the very thing they all wish to avoid, for fear of a Labour victory.

As a consequence, the bluster about renegotiating the EU withdrawal deal, which the EU insist is not up for renegotiation, has in one form or another been in all candidate pitches.  Johnson insists up front that preparation for no deal is necessary, both as a negotiating position and in order to be ready for the potential reality.

Johnson’s stance relies upon the EU shifting its position massively or the UK Parliament allowing a no deal option to be on the table.  Neither look likely at the moment.

It has been the case for some time now that the only way out of the political deadlock facing the UK is a real people’s vote, in the form of a general election.   For all of the bluster, the Tory leadership race may turn out to be a prelude to just that.  Boris Johnson’s grip on the keys to No.10 may not be very firm after all.

 

The orchestration of war against Iran gathers pace

4th June 2019

As US President, Donald Trump, arrives in the UK increased tension in the Middle East raises the real possibility of further conflict in the region.  Jane Green for the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People’s Rights (CODIR) assesses the dangers.

anti Trump

Anti Trump protesters fill the streets of London – 4th June 2019

The visit of United States President, Donald Trump, on a state visit to the UK, coincides with the most belligerent and threatening period of US foreign policy since the war on Iraq in 2003.  The focus of the Trump administration upon the Islamic Republic of Iran, clearly the new public enemy no.1 for the US, has escalated in recent weeks to the point where Iran is being accused directly of terrorist action against oil tankers in the Persian Gulf.

The incident, which occurred early in May, remains shrouded in mystery.  However, the suspicious issue of the attacks on four Saudi tankers, at the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah, on 12th May has clearly been used to engineer an anti-Iran climate.

At the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting, convened in Saudi Arabia last weekend, King Salman used his opening address to condemn the attacks, stating,

“We emphasise that these subversive terrorist acts are aimed not only at the kingdom and the Gulf region, but also on the security of navigation and energy supplies to the world.”

The Saudis clearly blame Iran for the attacks and are attempting to unite Muslim and Arab opinion against Iran.

US national Security Adviser, John Bolton, speaking in London last week claimed that he will be able to present evidence that Iran was behind the attacks, although it was evident that producing evidence was not the main issue for Bolton, who stated,

“I don’t think anybody who is familiar with the situation in the region, whether they have examined the evidence or not, has come to any conclusion other than that these attacks were carried out by Iran or their surrogates.”

In the year since President Trump pulled the US out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran nuclear deal which lifted sanctions in exchange for Iran reducing its nuclear programme, pressure upon the Iranian regime has been steadily increased.  Sanctions have been tightened to the point where Iran’s oil exports, its main foreign currency earner, have been reduced to zero.

In April the US designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist group with Trump stating that the move “recognises the reality that Iran is not only a state sponsor of terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft”.

The policies of US administrations for over 40 years, from Jimmy Carter and Reagan to Trump, have consistently focussed on how to engineer regime change in Iran.  The United States remains keen to see Iran return to its role following World War Two.  During that period Iran was the most reliable ally of the US in the Middle East, both in terms of supporting US strategic interests and in securing the flow of cheap oil to the US, Europe and Japan.

Opposition to the Iranian revolution was most brutally manifest in US support for the attack of Saddam Hussein upon Iran, which led to the 8-year long war with Iraq in the 1980s and hostile relations with the regime ever since. The US has supported all attempts to destabilise and overthrow the regime. George Bush famously characterised Iran as being one of the countries in his ‘axis of evil’ and threatened regime change.

Even after the JCPOA agreement reached in 2015, which supposedly lifted sanctions, the US continued to maintain paralysing banking sanctions on Iran that prevented it from trading easily with the rest of the world. Since May 2018 the sanctions regime has become untenable.

In a tweet on 18th August 2018 Trump boasted that: “The Iran sanctions have officially been cast. These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they ratchet up to yet another level. Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States.  I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!”

The irony of this statement aside, it is clear that the actions of the US do not tend towards peace, either in the world or in the Middle East.  Provocation, duplicity and lies have been the stock in trade of US foreign policy for decades and this is no less the case in the present situation.

The United States has sent some of the its most deadly weapons of war to the Persian Gulf close to Iran, including several warships, an aircraft carrier and fighter jets as well as B52 bombers.  This is in addition to the deployment of the US Patriot Missile system to the region. The US Navy announced that on Sunday, 19th May the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group, in coordination with the US Marine Corps, conducted military exercises in the Arabian Sea highlighting US “lethality and agility to respond to threat”.  On the same day, Donald Trump threatened to “destroy Iran forever.”

In response to the ongoing US pressure the Iranian government has stated that it will reduce its compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, making clear in a statement of the National Security Council of Iran that “the Islamic Republic of Iran at the current stage is no longer committed to complying with restrictions on maintaining only a certain inventory of the enriched uranium and heavy water.”

The position of the Iranian government resulted in a rapid and negative reaction from the European Union, and many European politicians expressed concern about the decision of the Iranian government.

There is little doubt that the increase in sanctions has exacerbated the profound economic and social crisis inside Iran, as the regime continues to suppress waves of protest against its political and economic policies, as well as its widespread human rights abuses.  The theocratic dictatorship in Iran is only interested in protecting its own position, whatever the cost to the Iranian people.

The United States is clearly seeking to use this situation to its advantage, in order to force regime change upon Iran, in a shape that will be consistent with maintaining US interests and hegemony in the Middle East.  The stepping up of both rhetoric and action by the United States could, at any point, provide the spark which sees the Middle East go up in flames.

With both Israel and Saudi Arabia, the heavily armed allies of the United States in the Middle East, increasingly strident in their denunciation of the Iranian regime, the prospect of conflict is further intensified.

The visit of President Trump to the UK must be accompanied by a clear anti-war message.  The people of Iran have suffered at the hands of the theocracy for over forty years.  It is their right to shape a democratic future in their own interests, not those of the existing dictatorship or any external power.  For that they need peace and continued international solidarity from labour, trade union and peace groups across the world. They do not need to be staring down the barrel of a US gun.